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Manifestations of the African Divine: A Student-Curated Exhibit

Contributors: Christian Agbabiaka, Oyindamola Babajide, Apollo Covington, Taylor Dillion, Namir Fearce, Brianna Flowers, Cheyenne Griffin, Amanda McDonald, Roda Musmar, Jesus Perez, Shanese Randall, Nadine Toussaint, Marlena Wadley, Caitlyn Walker

February - May 10, 2019 / AACC Library


Instructor: Mario LaMothe, PhD

The interactive panels and materials assembled in this exhibit are the works of fourteen students enrolled in the Fall 2018 African-American Studies 294 course “Performing Africanist Spirituality.” A collective product of class assignments, Manifestations of the African Divine contemplates how contemporary manifestations of African diaspora religious cultures soulfully index ways that people of African descent restore, maintain, and continue to cultivate their own wellness practices.

Viewers will experience how the contributors explored performance phenomena generated by African-descended religions by paying careful attention to visual arts, video recordings, dances, music, poetry, literature, dramatic texts, oral histories, and ethnographies. Throughout the semester, they investigated how embodiments of African divinities energize spaces in which congregants transform dance, songs, oral performances, and visual arts into knowledge and social bonds. Conversely, they questioned the multiple ways in which embodiments fuel a fantasy world of negative representations.

Manifestations of the African Divine showcases the ways in which students critically respond to these phenomena through auto-ethnographic writing and research papers, class presentations, and workshops.

The purpose of this exhibit is to raise awareness about African diaspora religions, cultural alliances and  difference across time or place, and the politics and ethics of representation vis-à-vis African diaspora traditions. We want to extend knowledge about ways that iterations of migration and diaspora inform current investigations of African diaspora migration, and migration in general. Finally, we highlight the convergence of Diaspora Studies, and acknowledge the many ways in which these interconnections by people of African descent is not a new phenomenon.

Aims and objectives for visitors are to deepen visitors’ comprehension of African diaspora identity and cultural performances, experience how the philosophies of African diaspora spiritual practices continue to enrich Black and Brown lives, and sustain African diasporic communities, and finally participate in dialogues about the complexities of Africanist creative practices and what it might mean to imagine one’s past, present and future selves through Africanist influenced aesthetics, social practices, and artistic forms and movements.